The western region of New York State around Buffalo has its fair share of urban legends.  This one is about a family that had hands like claws.

By now, you've probably heard of the legend of Pigman Road.  It's the story of a man who unfortunately killed three young boys who didn't heed his warning to be left alone on Holland Road off Route 5.

There are stories of apparitions that haunted the hallways of the Holiday Inn on Grand Island and cemeteries that have been haunted all over Western New York.

This one, if true, is probably more sad than scary.  It's the legend of the Clawfoot People of Zoar Valley.  For those who don't know, Zoar Valley is near Gowanda which is about 30 miles south of Buffalo.

According to, the Clawfoot People of Zoar Valley were a family that were all traced back to one woman.  She was a prostitute that had produced a long line of around 200 people that all shared the same genetic abnormality.  The men that were born in this family all had hands that looked like claws.  In other words, fingers were fused together and they looked more like talons than fingers at all.

Obviously, this freaked people out.  Back in the 1800s (when they began to settle in the area) something like this meant something more than just a gene mutation. It was a work of witchcraft or the devil.  They were shunned.

In some cases, it would skip a generation.  Women began to give birth to babies that had the deformation.  Some of the men even tried to remove their own fused-together fingers.  It was believed it was better to have no fingers at all than ones that showed this defect.

The legend says though that the Clawfoot people decided to make a pact.  They all got together and vowed that they would never marry or have children again so as to avoid ever passing on the genetic abnormality to anyone ever again.  They essentially exterminated themselves.

It's a tragic story of a family who felt they had no other options.  There aren't any stories of these people ever hurting anyone else (other than themselves).  That's why I mentioned that this story is more sad than scary.  Today it's something that could simply be corrected with surgery.  But back then unnecessarily ended with a family of people who chose to simply live alone until the day they died.

The remoteness of Zoar Valley lends itself to plenty of legends and stories as this group of explorers set out to find:

The Myths, Monsters and Legends of Upstate New York

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